Esports Audience Crossover with Traditional Sports

One of the most common questions we get asked about the esports audience is in relation to the audience’s affinity towards traditional sports. Typically, it’s some variation of either “How do esports fans cross-over with traditional sports?” or ” Which traditional sport has the highest cross over with esports?”

One way to consider answering this question would be to compare the audiences on a social platform such as Twitter, in order to understand the shared following between the two sides.

Our first step is to create representative Twitter universes for each side of the equation. On the traditional sports side, we looked at followers of all major leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, and MLB) and players within those leagues. On the esports side, we looked at followers of all major teams, players, and relevant esports related handles.

Once the handle sets are defined, we deduplicate the followers within the set (only counting people once), and then compare the list of followers to understand how many accounts follow just traditional sports handles, how many accounts follow just esports handles, and how many accounts follow both.

Of the over 50 million esports followers in this analysis, 24% of those were shared with the traditional sports side of the equation. This means that a full 75% of the esports audience does not overlap with the traditional sports universe of Twitter. Of the audience that does cross-over, the most popular traditional sport is the NBA – which has approximately 2x the number of followers in common with esports compared to the other traditional sports.

Thus, esports presents a large untapped opportunity for advertising brands to connect with a primarily millennial audience, one that also happens to be rapidly cutting their cable subscriptions and are becoming increasingly difficult to reach via traditional advertising means. Furthermore, esports represents an opportunity to gain additional impressions with the overlapping fan segment (that is, the segment that exists as both esports and traditional sports fans).